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Kent State’s WKSU-FM Launches May 4, 1970, Audio Archive

Posted Apr. 29, 2010

As Kent State University prepares for the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the May 4, 1970, shootings, WKSU-FM - the university’s award-winning NPR affiliate - has launched a new online audio archive about the history-making events.

The website www.kentstate1970.org offers original source material for scholars, students, news media and the general public. The materials include unedited raw audio and radio station broadcasts, photographs, text and video related to the May 4 shootings, the days before, and the aftermath. The website will be continuously updated as additional materials become available.

The project was conceived by Daniel Nawrocki, a Kent State graduate student pursuing his Master of Arts in journalism and mass communication. Nawrocki worked with WKSU-FM News Director M.L. Schultze to organize the station’s news archives. He noticed the vast amount of May 4 recordings stored at the station and concluded that the Web would be an ideal tool to ensure the public could access such valuable material.  The project included preserving archival tape, organizing first-person accounts and transferring everything into digital files.

In May 1970, WKSU-FM was uniquely situated to provide in-depth coverage of the shootings. As tensions rose, the station sent student reporters throughout campus to capture events on audio tape as they unfolded. Much of the material that they gathered is now available to the public for the very first time.

Mark Urycki, director of programming and operations at WKSU-FM, first began organizing the station’s May 4 audio archive in 1989 when he was preparing his award-winning documentary “Remembering Kent State, 1970,” which is also on the website. Urycki’s 30-minute version was honored with a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award in 1990. In 2000, the documentary was expanded to an hour and garnered a Third Coast Audio Festival Award and Society of Professional Journalists National Documentary Award.

To supplement the material from WKSU-FM’s own archive, Nawrocki went to the Kent State library to meet with archivists to obtain further material, mostly images, and to get professional guidance on constructing an online archive. Interviews, news reports and official documents from beyond Kent also were gathered. The site also includes a searchable version of the Kent State section of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest report, which is usually available only in non-searchable PDF files.

“We wanted to make sure to provide historical framework about the audio for our visitors” Nawrocki said. The website is geared toward building context for visitors who come to the site with a range of understanding of the events of May 4 and their impact. It also contains a great deal of historical material describing the political and social climate leading up to events of May 4.

Urycki supervised the project, with contributions from Schultze, WKSU-FM Web Developer Joe Linstrum and Kent State graphic design student Renee Volchko. In addition to “Remembering Kent State, 1970,” three other documentaries from 1971, 1972 and 1985 are available online for the first time.
 
So far, the reception to the new website has been quite positive.  “The thing that really surprised me was seeing the reach that the site already has had,” Nawrocki said. “We've had visitors from Germany, Poland, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey and Yemen. It’s great to see interest in this material, not just from Ohio and across the country, but from around the world.”

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Media Contacts:
Mark Urycki, urycki@wksu.org, 330-672-6721
Bob Burford, rburford@kent.edu, 330-672-8516